Allowing your child to grow up overweight will increase their risk of countless medical complications including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, asthma, and gallstones. It will also have a major impact on their cognitive development due to nutritional deficiencies. While this process is not always easy, investing a little extra time and energy into your child's health will change their life forever. Here is a look at four steps you can take to ensure that your child stays within a healthy weight range as they continue to grow older.
Limit Screen Time
We are more connected to our devices than ever, and some children spend hours a day in front of televisions, tablets, computers, and smartphones. While an hour or two of video games and TV shows is generally not a problem, parents must set strict limits on how long their children can use these devices. The American Academy of Pediatrics claims that children between the ages of 18 and 24 months should not spend any time in front of screens unless they are video chatting with a loved one. When it comes time to watch a show or play a game, you should encourage programming that challenges their cognitive abilities or gets them to move around.
Skip the Sweet Drinks
Even if your children are eating healthy meals, they might still have a problem losing weight if they consume sodas and sports drinks. They might also have a difficult time staying within a healthy weight range if they drink too much juice. The vast majority of liquid that your child drinks throughout the day should be plain water. Parents who are having a tough time getting their children to drink water might want to make it more exciting by adding natural flavors such as lemon, lime, mint, ginger, or cucumbers. The amount of water that your child should drink every day depends on their age, weight, and sex, but most younger kids need at least five or six full cups.
Many parents are surprised to hear that children need upwards of three hours of exercise every single day. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find ways to get them to move around when you are tired yourself. That is one of the reasons why so many parents enroll their children in extracurricular activities at night, on the weekends, and during the summer. Swimming classes for toddlers, intramural sports, and outdoor games are all excellent options that will help them burn calories and strengthen their muscles. Exercising will also help with other aspects of their life such as their studies and how well they sleep.
Lead by Example
The final step in this process is to lead by example. Children always pick up habits from their parents, and that includes how much you value your health. If your child sees you sitting in front of the television for hours every night, then they will assume that is a perfectly normal part of the day. By getting some exercise and eating healthy, you are going to help your children create habits that they will stick to for many years to come. You can also use physical activities as a way to strengthen your family bond. Instead of staying in at night and on the weekends, your family should head to the park to spend a few hours out in the sun playing games.
Children who remain sedentary and eat whatever they want could potentially have to deal with a lifetime of health problems. Before trying any of these tips and tricks, parents should first speak with a doctor to make sure that their child is overweight and in need of lifestyle changes.